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J Med Internet Res. 2012 Feb 13;14(1):e11. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1670.

Matrix analysis of the digital divide in eHealth services using awareness, want, and adoption gap.

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Department of Statistics and Information Sciences, College of Management, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei County, Taiwan.



The digital divide usually refers to access or usage, but some studies have identified two other divides: awareness and demand (want). Given that the hierarchical stages of the innovation adoption process of a customer are interrelated, it is necessary and meaningful to analyze the digital divide in eHealth services through three main stages, namely, awareness, want, and adoption.


By following the three main integrated stages of the innovation diffusion theory, from the customer segment viewpoint, this study aimed to propose a new matrix analysis of the digital divide using the awareness, want, and adoption gap ratio (AWAG). I compared the digital divide among different groups. Furthermore, I conducted an empirical study on eHealth services to present the practicability of the proposed methodology.


Through a review and discussion of the literature, I proposed hypotheses and a new matrix analysis. To test the proposed method, 3074 Taiwanese respondents, aged 15 years and older, were surveyed by telephone. I used the stratified simple random sampling method, with sample size allocation proportioned by the population distribution of 23 cities and counties (strata).


This study proposed the AWAG segment matrix to analyze the digital divide in eHealth services. First, awareness and want rates were divided into two levels at the middle point of 50%, and then the 2-dimensional cross of the awareness and want segment matrix was divided into four categories: opened group, desire-deficiency group, perception-deficiency group, and closed group. Second, according to the degrees of awareness and want, each category was further divided into four subcategories. I also defined four possible strategies, namely, hold, improve, evaluate, and leave, for different regions in the proposed matrix. An empirical test on two recently promoted eHealth services, the digital medical service (DMS) and the digital home care service (DHCS), was conducted. Results showed that for both eHealth services, the digital divides of awareness, want, and adoption existed across demographic variables, as well as between computer owners and nonowners, and between Internet users and nonusers. With respect to the analysis of the AWAG segment matrix for DMS, most of the segments, except for people with marriage status of Other or without computers, were positioned in the opened group. With respect to DHCS, segments were separately positioned in the opened, perception-deficiency, and closed groups.


Adoption does not closely follow people's awareness or want, and a huge digital divide in adoption exists in DHS and DHCS. Thus, a strategy to promote adoption should be used for most demographic segments.

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